Working with Platforms

Incopro has built relationships with leading online marketplaces and platforms around the world. We have previously leveraged these relationships to drive positive change for brands.

Brands on their own, are outmanned and outgunned in the face of ever-evolving infringement activity. We are in tune with these emerging threats, whether they are posed by fast-growing channels, new types of infringement, or bad actors using techniques to avoid detection altogether.

We work closely with platforms, both incumbent and emerging, firm in the belief that Brand Protection requires a strategic approach and strong collaboration to be successful. Together, brands, platforms and regulators can take the fight to infringers on a global scale and win.

1. Online marketplaces

Bad actors hide in plain sight

2. Social Media

Ecommerce functionality suited for clandestine infringers

3. Search Engines

Time to step up

1. Online marketplaces – bad actors hide in plain sight

Ecommerce continues its staggering growth. And as physical retail declines, marketplaces have become the go-to location for hundreds of millions of global consumers.

  • Annual eCommerce sales reaching over US$1 Trillion in 2020.

    China

  • Annual eCommerce sales reaching US$400 Billion in 2020.

    USA

  • 82% of Amazon sales go through the buy box.

    Worldwide

However, many emerging online marketplaces focus on growth and increasing cart size, with little attention paid to the validity of sellers or the products they offer, leading to compromised quality and consumer experience. Bad actors hide in plain sight on marketplaces across the globe, fooling consumers into purchasing infringing products, many of which are very low-quality and potentially dangerous.

Although not by design, the marketplace model currently puts bad actors at an advantage:

  • Online marketplace algorithms favor low-prices, allowing infringing products to be pushed higher up search rankings and to take control of primary purchase areas such as the buy-box. Marketplace listings use “tags” or “hidden tags” to appear in product searches, regardless of whether a brand name is included in the listing description.
  • Bad actors can sponsor listings to push them to the top of first-page results and above a brand’s products.
  • Frictionless account creation and listing of products, at a low cost to the seller, means it is easy for criminal networks to infiltrate marketplaces.
  • On the majority of marketplaces, sellers are not required to verify the information they display, leaving consumers in the dark about product location, seller location and the authenticity of items.

2. Social Media – Ecommerce functionality suited for clandestine infringers

Infringers have recognized the behavioral shift in where consumers spend their online time and how they engage with their favorite brands, expanding their operations to emerging and established social media platforms.

49%

of the worlds population are active social media users (The Next Web 2019).

83%

of Instagram users say they find new products and services on Instagram.

31%

of millennials use social channels to browse for new items.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, WeChat and TikTok have inbuilt or planned ecommerce functionality, allowing infringers to link products to posts. Targeted advertising is also used to promote infringing products to specific demographics with a guise of authenticity. Group buying platforms such as Pinduoduo blur the online shopping experience further still by allowing consumers to pool together to purchase products directly from manufacturers in bulk quantities at a large discount.

Sites without transactional functionality are also used by bad actors, funneling users to either low-profile, illegitimate websites, or marketplace listings. Some take this one step further by directing users straight to payment, using services such as PayPal and AliPay.

3. Search Engines – time to step up

Incopro’s research into the role search engines play in directing unwitting consumers to locations selling infringing products reveals the alarming scale of the issue.

60%

of first-page search results for branded goods direct to fake products

26%

of the potentially harmful sites in five researched sectors appear within the first three search results;

44.64%

of the first result shown in a search engine will benefit from all click-throughs (Optify, 2017).

Incopro maintains strong relationships with search engines but recognizes there is a disconnect between their current approach and what is best for consumer safety.

Currently, Incopro is able to approach domain registrars and web hosts to take infringing websites. However, if search engines were to introduce a simplified deindexing process to deal with trademark infringement, brands would be able to act faster to protect consumers and their online reputations, especially in scenarios where registrars or registrants are noncompliant.

Find out more

Brand protection technology part of the puzzle

All brands have a shared goal of reducing online infringement and desire a simple, swift, and well-managed process for tackling bad actors.

Schemes such as Amazon Project Zero, eBay VeRO, and the WeChat Brand Protection Tool have enhanced the enforcement process for brands on these high-priority platforms. However, platform tools are only one piece of the puzzle and are not found on every marketplace or social media site. Networks operate across platforms and territories rather than on individual marketplaces, meaning our wide dataset, swift threat prioritization , unrivalled industry expertise, and strategic enforcement is critical in meaningfully reducing the level of infringement.

Collaboration is key

Collaboration is the final piece of the puzzle and sits at the very heart of Brand Protection; it is imperative that we maintain strong relationships with platforms and that we encourage the adoption of transparent enforcement policies.

That’s why we hold regular meetings with regional incumbents such as Alibaba, WeChat, and Amazon to pass on our insights on infringement trends to help shape the platforms’ overall strategy and improve the tools available to brands. Many of our customers are also part of brand collaborations such as the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, enabling us to have influence over platform policies. Through these relationships, we are able to approach our key contacts at platforms to escalate concerns from brands and expedite action in time-sensitive scenarios.

We are driving forward the agenda for closer collaboration – both amongst brands and with platforms. We believe that, together, brands, platforms and regulators can stifle the ability for sophisticated global infringer networks to grow and prosper and ultimately win the war against the criminals responsible.

Our Story

Resources

Beyond anti-counterfeiting – A look into Incopro’s Investigations Services team

Incopro’s Special Project’s team offers compliance monitoring, test purchasing and anti-piracy support.

Read more

Ted Baker’s intelligence-led approach to Brand Protection

Through Incopro’s Brand Protection technology and expertise, Ted Baker is able to prioritize workload and focus on the most damaging sellers, making a lasting impact on the health of their brand. Read the full story.

Read more

Google must do more to prevent counterfeits appearing within search results

Incopro is calling for Google & other search engines to work more closely with brands to remove counterfeits.

Read more

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